Enhancing medication adherence
Established in 1942, Lewis Drug made its mark as the first self-service drug store in South Dakota. Today, Lewis continues to go strong with an even greater emphasis on improving patient health outcomes.
“Our focus is really going to be on the patient and the customer, and their healthcare needs,” said Scott Cross, EVP at Lewis Drug.
In pharmacy, Lewis Drug has several initiatives in place aimed at improving medication adherence, including its Smart Sync program, which enables enrolled patients to have their prescriptions filled on the same day each month.
Each month, a Lewis pharmacist reviews patients’ prescriptions, monitors changes after any doctor or hospital visits, and checks for possible drug interactions.
The program is now in its third year but, according to Cross, the company is now actively marketing it through television spots and pharmacy brochures. In addition, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are calling their patients to inform them of the program and encouraging them to enroll.
Cross said the company also is exploring unit-dose packaging for its retail prescriptions as a way to help improve adherence. “We are testing several different types to find out which one works the best,” Cross said.
Lewis Drug has offered unit-dosing for its mental health and long-term care patients for several years.
Meanwhile, the company is working to become even more of a wellness destination at the front end by providing customers with greater healthy alternatives in its food and beverage departments, including gluten-free and organic products and nutritional supplements.
Cross said Lewis is exploring different merchandising display options and may even create an entire wellness department within the store with hopes to implement by the third quarter.
Bridging pharmacy, nutrition
With a vast network of supermarkets and a variety of stand-alone drug store formats, Metro Inc. has carved out a strong position in Ontario and Quebec by stressing the crucial link between pharmacies, nutrition and overall wellness.
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All of its pharmacists in Ontario, for example, have completed an accredited continuing education course on nutrition.
“The nutrition initiatives that our pharmacists have been able to implement into their pharmacy’s service offering enable them to enhance the patient care provided,” she said. “These programs empower patients to better manage their own health as it relates to their medications and health conditions.”
In some instances, the spokeswoman noted, Metro pharmacies have offered specialized clinics catering to specific patient populations in collaboration with other health professionals. One of the more visible of these efforts has been pharmacists’ collaboration with a registered dietitian on diabetes screening clinics, helping to raise awareness of the disease and root out undiagnosed cases.
Metro’s 71 Ontario-based pharmacies, operating under the Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners, also have been at the heart of a government-funded smoking cessation program for patients covered by the province’s drug benefit system.
“The program contains all of the elements required by the Ontario Ministry of Health, but is enhanced with the addition of a lung function assessment to screen enrolled customers for COPD and to determine their lung age,” the spokeswoman said. “This assessment is valuable to ensure those with possible COPD receive the appropriate follow-up, along with providing measurable variables that can help educate and motivate individuals toward a smoke-free lifestyle.”
Many of these efforts also have extended to the company’s pharmacy network in Quebec, where it is the franchisor and distributor for 194 franchised Brunet Plus, Brunet, Brunet Clinique, Brunet Target, and Clini Plus drug stores.
Supporting succession plans
In early 2015, Bartell Drugs celebrated its 125th anniversary and named a new president. Brian Unmacht took the helm as president of the family-owned chain in the first quarter of 2015 after serving as a member of Bartell Drugs’ board of directors since 2011. Previously, Unmacht was executive VP and COO at REI.
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Bartell Drugs’ chairman and CEO George D. Bartell said that filling the position at the 63-store chain supports future succession plans. Bartell Drugs is the oldest and largest family-owned drug store chain in the United States.
Last year, Bartell added a Group Health CareClinic to an additional location, bringing the total to three. The CareClinics, opened in partnership with Group Health and staffed with Group Health nurse practitioners and physician assistants, will get a wider rollout, with four to five added in additional Bartell locations in 2015. The clinics are open on evenings and weekends.
Adding CareClinic facilities is one way Bartell employs “high touch, high service” features to differentiate itself from competitors. Services that can only be offered in store allow the chain to compete with online channels.
In 2016, the chain will open a new store in the Ballard area of Seattle. The 14,000-sq.-ft. location will be a “next generation” store that will introduce new services, product offerings and customer convenience features.
Through its pharmacies, Bartell offers a variety of immunizations and health screening services. The chain offers pharmacy refill and reminder services with its MyAutoScript program, and allows patients to sync their prescription refills with its MyRxSync service.
Bartell offers in-store health and beauty events twice a year, during which it offers digital mammography screenings in cooperation with Evergreen Medical Hospital and a variety of other health and beauty offers.